Nigeria has lost about $3.3 billion to extraordinary tax breaks granted by the government to some of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies.
The companies include Shell, Total and ENI, which form part of the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) consortium. The tax break started in 1999. The NLNG Act grants a 10-year tax holiday making the company exempt from all corporate tax payments for the first ten years of operation.
According to ActionAid, the NLNG Act makes the consortium the only company in Nigeria with its own law defining its tax framework, also exempts the consortium from other taxes.
The Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Ojobo Atuluku, disclosed this during yesterday the launch of the report ‘Leaking Revenue: How a big tax break to European gas companies has cost Nigeria billions’ in Abuja.
Atuluku, “that amount is the equivalent of twice our national education budget and thrice the healthcare budget for 2015.
“This calls for serious concern in a country where over 20 million children do not go to school and almost 15 out of one hundred children die before their fifth birthday”, she said.
ActionAid researches from 2013, she said, “show that the tax incentives cost developing countries at least $138 billion every year, part of which is an estimated amount of $2.9 billion, or a whopping N577 billion Nigeria forfeits every year as a result of tax incentives.” Adding that much of this fund would have gone into social infrastructure developments.
“There are incontrovertible evidence from researches conducted in many developing nations that corporate profits are soaring, and corporate investments in low income countries had tripled since the 1980s. Yet the corporate tax revenues of the countries where these profits are generated have flat-lined as a percentage of their GDP”, she said.
This, she said, has resulted to “women and children suffering as healthcare, schools and other key public services are starved of resources,” while suggesting that if many of these tax incentives are presented, we will be able to improve the lives of women and children with improved availability of health, education and other key public services.
ActionAid and their partners on the Tax Justice platform “want Nigeria and other resource rich developing countries to begin to review their tax incentive policies and Nigeria National Assembly in particular not only to review existing laws on tax incentives but to exercise caution in the proposed amendment to the Companies Income Tax Act 2004.”